The Plumber

Elizabeth Tomlinson  |  9/10/2008 11:47:29 PM

What does a plumber do?

A plumber’s job involves working with the water distribution and waste water disposal in your residence. They install and repair plumbing equipment such as pipes and fixtures in your home.

For what specific tasks would you seek the services of someone in this profession?

A plumber is needed on every new homebuilding project and on those rebuilding projects that involve those systems that deal with water distribution and waste water disposal. Plumbers also work on existing homes for repairs to these systems or installation of new plumbing fixtures and appliances.

What licenses and certifications are available in this profession and what requirements are needed to obtain these?

The state of Louisiana issues master and journeyman licenses through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana. Both licenses require passing a plumbing exam. To receive a master plumber license, the applicant must have a journeyman’s license in Louisiana or a professional engineer’s license with five years' experience in plumbing and successful completion of the master exam. The master exam includes subjects ranging from drainage systems and sewers to codes, laws and safety.

To become a journeyman, you must first provide proof of five years or 8,000 hours of work experience involving installing, repairing, or maintaining plumbing systems under the direct supervision of a licensed journeyman or master plumber. During this learning stage, you are referred to as an apprentice plumber. According to the Louisiana Administrative Code, an apprentice must be in an apprentice program approved by the Louisiana Department of Employment and Training. The apprentice can then apply to take the journeyman exam, and if he successfully passes may receive his journeyman plumber license. The journeyman plumber is supervised by a master plumber.

Plumbing licenses must be renewed each year. Starting in 2009, a journeyman plumber must have at least four hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) annually to have his license renewed, and a master plumber must have at least six hours CPE for same. Proof of insurance as spelled out in the Louisiana Administrative Code, Part LV, must be submitted before any license is issued or renewed.

Note: Many jurisdictions have licensing requirements on the local or parish level in addition to those at the state level.

How can the consumer verify that the professional has the license he/she purports to have?

You may verify the license by calling the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana (www.spbla.com) in Baton Rouge at (225) 756-3434. The Louisiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors has a link on their Web site to find licensed master plumbers. To access, go to www.laphcc.org.

What license is required in Louisiana to do what type of work?

The state of Louisiana requires a journeyman or master license to do plumbing work in Louisiana. A journeyman must also be under the supervision of a master plumber, except when repairing existing plumbing. Apprentices can do plumbing work, but only with a journeyman on site at all times directing the work. The journeyman can only supervise one apprentice on one job at a time. A homeowner may do plumbing work on his own property, if he resides there, without a license.

A master plumber is qualified to plan and lay out plumbing systems, as well as supervise any installation, modification and/or repair of plumbing systems by a journeyman plumber. A journeyman plumber is qualified to do only installations, alterations and/or repairs to plumbing systems.

Plumbers can do work up to $50,000. If the plumbing work on a project exceeds $50,000, the plumber must have a contractor’s license as well, even if working as a subcontractor for a licensed contractor.

You may come across a plumber with what is called a "restricted master plumber" license. These are no longer issued since the Master Plumber Licensing Law went into effect in 1990. Those applicants who did not pass the master plumber exam at this time, but were practicing with a local license, are restricted to practicing only in the local jurisdiction where they received their local license.

What is the typical pay basis for this profession and what is the typical cost?

Fees are usually based on one of the following options:

  • Hourly (+ cost of materials)
  • Flat Fee

Service calls to existing residences are almost always charged on an hourly rate for labor. The homeowner must also pay for the cost of the materials required for the job. New construction or rebuilding work is usually quoted to the contractor as a flat fee. Currently the cost of copper has increased, and many plumbers are quoting a flat fee that is only good for 24 hours. This is because the cost of copper is fluctuating almost daily.

How do you become a plumber?

Someone who is interested in becoming a plumber will either attend a trade school or enter into a state-approved apprenticeship program, usually through a local plumbing union or professional plumbing association. Apprenticeship programs are usually four years in length. Either course of action requires the applicant have five years or 8,000 hours of approved plumbing work before he can apply to take the journeyman plumber exam. Trade schools usually provide job-placement services, while apprenticeship programs will yield job contacts and often the possibility of employment with the same plumbing company in which the apprenticeship was conducted.

How does a plumber who is licensed or certified for providing service in another state get authorization to provide services in Louisiana?

A plumber from another state wishing to provide services in Louisiana may use the valid plumber’s license issued in their state to qualify to take the journeyman plumber exam in Louisiana. Once they pass the exam and receive a Louisiana state license, they may practice as a journeyman in Louisiana under the same conditions as a resident journeyman plumber.

Note: It is always good to have a written contract with any building professional to protect both you and the professional.

 

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